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The Dallas Morning News Website Is Getting a New Look In September

Belo made a profit in the second quarter in 2019 thanks to selling The Dallas Morning News' old headquarters.EXPAND
Belo made a profit in the second quarter in 2019 thanks to selling The Dallas Morning News' old headquarters.
Jim Schutze
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Big changes are coming to The Dallas Morning News' website in September, as the struggling newspaper company teams with the Washington Post in an effort to improve its website.

Word of the change came as the Morning News' parent company A.H. Belo Corp. released its second-quarter financial statement. The good news from the second quarter is that the company turned a profit. The bad news is that the profit came from the sale of its former headquarters, and the company doesn't have another one to peddle.

Results from more mundane efforts, such as subscription and ad sales, were less cheery.

Belo's report touted nearly $17 million in net income from 2019's second quarter, a big improvement over the $500,000 loss suffered by the company over the same period in 2018. The improvement, according to the company "was driven by $28 million in proceeds from the sale of real estate previously used as the company's headquarters, resulting in a pretax gain of $25.9 million which for tax purposes is fully offset by the net operating loss carryforwards."

For those at home doing the math, $17 million net revenue is, in technical financial terms, a shit-ton less than the $25.9 million windfall.

Meanwhile, compared with the same period last year, circulation revenue for the DMN is down 5.1%, or $900,000, despite rate increases and a $300,000, or 26.3%, bump in digital-only subscription receipts.

The company's other revenues, including printing and distribution, also decreased by $2 million, thanks in part to a $600,000 revenue loss "related to event sponsorship," and Belo's decision to pull back on its outside printing business. Your friendly neighborhood alt-weekly, for example, used to be printed by Belo. That's no longer the case. Their choice, not ours.

Extensive layoffs and buying less newsprint helped Belo offset its operating losses by about $3.1 million, according to the company.

Belo CEO Robert Decherd said that the company's second quarter results were "encouraging."

The Dallas Morning News is finding its footing in pursuing its digital subscription objectives and is well along in its plan to launch a new website on the Arc platform in September," Decherd said. "The creation of a single decision-making structure for all of the Company’s operations under Grant Moise, including digital marketing services, gives additional lift to these initiatives."

Arc is the Washington Post's relatively new digital publishing platform. According to a press release tied to the Boston Globe transitioning to Arc, the platform provides higher site speed and advanced testing and analytics tools.

Looking at the Post's and Globe's websites, it's easy to see where the Morning News might be headed.

In addition to a publishing platform, the Post also makes a wider advertising network and more sophisticated paywall management available through Arc. The platform can make it easier to target paywall offers at specific readers, whether they prefer sports, the Metro section or reside in or outside of North Texas.

Belo's stock closed at $3.39 Wednesday. A year ago, it's price was $4.40.

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